Tribalism Triumphs Over Truth

 In Promoting Tolerance

Partisan strings tied the entire impeachment process together. The results were not surprising, we knew it all along. As I wish Republicans and Democrats would break from their political game and cooperate to bring about truth, this was not realistic. Despite the predicted outcome, I am still horrified by the triumph of lies and corruption over integrity. More than a battle between Republicans and Democrats, or to acquit or remove, this trial was a test of fundamental American values of honesty, transparency, and justice. 

Woman at the Capitol protesting for witnesses to be heard. (source-https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-impeachment-live-updates/2020/01/13/5591002c-35f3-11ea-bf30-ad313e4ec754_story.html)

We bore witness to the exposition of clear evidence, and wanted more. In fact, 75% of the American people supported further witness testimony to be heard (Washington Post). Yet, over half our senatorial body blindly stuck by deceptive rhetoric. They remained complicit, ignoring our voices and voting along party lines.

It all began with Trump’s ‘fake news’ slogan; it was merely a joke. “Oh fake news…hahah,” is what we say, but the results of this trial have conveyed the dangers of these words. Charismatic and persuasive, the President’s attempts to blind the American public of his devious actions succeeded. He’s been able to shape the minds and win the hearts of millions since his campaign started in 2016. 

This type of speech–filled with denying facts and dismissing evidence– is a significant tactic used by dictators to abuse their power. Even graver are the consequences that usually accompany deceitful practices. Discrimination spreads incessantly and minority groups are targeted; and systematically, human beings are stripped of their basic human rights. Brainwashed by hateful rhetoric, common people begin to promote violence against certain groups as leaders pass cruel policies. We saw this gradual process lead to mass atrocities in Nazi Germany only 75 years ago. 

False statements in speeches and blatant lies in national addresses all culminated into unnecessary, rash executive orders and policies. We saw this in first, his cruel and damaging immigration policy, and more recently with the Iran conflict. Despite destructive outcomes, he is bolstered by the support of his administration and 49% approval rating (Gallup). As his ego is fed, Mr. Trump is given the signal to continue pushing the limits of presidential power and morality itself. 

The Senate trial in session.  (source-https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/19/world/five-things-january-19-trnd/index.html)

Bribing a foreign leader for information on a presidential candidate definitely crosses the line. The cover-ups that ensued following this affair exacerbated over the course of the trial, and even more so as evidence flooded both congressional houses. First, the President’s conversation with Mr. Zelensky was a “perfect phone call” involving diplomatic ties to protect Ukraine. When this argument was threatened upon the Democrats releasing the articles, many Republicans deemed them as “fake articles.” Immediately following the Bolton bombshell, which exposed clear incriminating information on Trump’s involvement in the affair, Republican senators voted to block further witness testimony, claiming additional witnesses would provide “no new information” (New York Times). Fearing that the former National Security Advisor’s revelations could tarnish their entire case, White House Lawyers argued that Trump’s effort to win re-election is in the “public national interest.” And indeed, in my eyes, his acquittal symbolizes that it may just be so. Is this what we, as Americans, really think? 

Studying the Constitutional framer’s intentions in my US History class, I learned it was left somewhat vague for important purposes: our founding fathers wanted to guarantee the articles would apply to future presidential periods, remaining elastic with societal developments overtime.  It surely was not meant for corruption to slip through the cracks and be justified by “oh, the Constitution doesn’t explicitly say that.” When an implied power rather than an expressed one is broken, it is not an invitation to be complicit. It is our responsibility, and more so our government’s duty, to stand up in defense of our Constitutional values. 

I’ve always been taught to speak up against injustices. The senate’s party tribalism has breached this major tenant of my childhood in this country. When additional witness testimony was available, Republican senators scrambled, strategizing a vote to conceal the presentation of truth. The decision to conceal facts by blocking witnesses violates principles young Americans are raised on daily. When my generation and future ones look to the government as guidance for law and order, I wonder what we think. Will we continue along this path of dishonesty because our President got away with it? I sure hope not. 

The victory of this–what is truly ‘fake news’– indicates corruption has been legitimized. Mr. Trump now understands that he can truly get away with anything. How will we be able to stop him next time?

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